The Gibraltar FA have today confirmed that UEFA have granted dispensation for Gibraltar to host their 2022 World Cup Qualifying home matches at the Victoria Stadium.
Photo (C) Black & Burst
The construction of a new national stadium, which was planned to start in 2020, was delayed understandably due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and with the current Victoria Stadium falling short of UEFA’s minimum requirements to host official international matches, the GFA had to apply to UEFA to extend their exemption which allowed Gib to host the Nations League in 2020, to cover the upcoming home World Cup Qualifiers.
In a statement, the GFA say: “The Gibraltar FA is very pleased to confirm that UEFA has approved it’s request to play the upcoming FIFA 2022
World Cup Qualifying Home matches at the Victoria Stadium.
In this regard, UEFA had previously confirmed to the Gibraltar FA that it would not grant any further exemptions after the UEFA Nations League 2020, to use the Victoria Stadium as a home venue for its International Matches, due to the Stadium falling short of UEFA’s minimum criteria for official international competition.
In any case, the Gibraltar FA had originally intended (pre COVID-19) to commence construction of the New National Stadium in the 3rd quarter of 2020, rendering the Victoria Stadium unavailable for at least 18-24 months.
For obvious reasons, the pandemic has delayed this original timeline, and therefore, the Victoria Stadium became available.
This delay prompted a senior Gibraltar FA delegation to make written and oral representations to UEFA in early December 2020, asking for further dispensation to allow Victoria Stadium to be used once again. After lengthy
discussions, UEFA have granted the request, on certain conditions similar to those imposed for the 2020 Euro Qualifiers.
One of the conditions is that the Victoria Stadium be used for all home matches, meaning that the construction of the New Stadium cannot commence until after the final scheduled World Cup Qualifying fixture on 16th November.Therefore the Gibraltar FA is now working towards this date, and will provide more information in the near future.
The other conditions relate to several upgrades which need to be made to the current Victoria Stadium. As such, the Gibraltar FA will shortly commence works onsite in order to meet UEFA’s conditions with ample time before its first World Cup Qualifying home match in March 2021.”
Speaking to the GFA, General Secretary Ivan Robba commented: “This is great news for the Gibraltar FA and for Gibraltar as a whole. We have been working hard with UEFA to get this exemption, as we strongly believe that this was the most sensible way forward given the difficulties that COVID19 is causing everywhere. The idea of having to play our Home matches in another country was very worrying for us, so we are extremely grateful to UEFA for understanding us and facilitating matters for us.
This now means that, COVID permitting, Gibraltar will again play world class international teams in the most prestigious international competitions on home soil. In this regard, we are very conscious of the pandemic and the
current restrictions imposed in Gibraltar as a result, so we are working and will continue to work closely with all relevant authorities to ensure that all measures are complied with accordingly.
Though it is too soon to tell, we sincerely hope, especially with the recently implemented vaccination program, that Gibraltar will be in a position to allow spectators into the Victoria Stadium to witness and experience such matches, as playing the UEFA Nations League without our supporters did not feel right at all.”
Gibraltar kick off their World Cup Qualifying campaign by hosting both Norway and the Netherlands in March 2021 – full fixtures can be found here.